A wellness vacation at the Algarve in Portugal was pretty much the best thing that could have happened to me in October. Warm temperatures, orange-red sunsets and a fresh sea breeze awaited me in Portugal. And after numerous wellness treatments in fantastic spas and a few encounters with the amazing Algarvios, I just fell in love with this beautiful place in Europe. Read the full article with my favorite locations!
1. Companhia das Culturas in Castro Marim
This place was exactly what I needed, when I arrived in Portugal! It couldn’t have been more different! A few hours ago, I was still in busy Berlin and although I love living in a big city, it can be exhausting from time to time. Berlin is a loud and rough city and life can be challenging. So arriving at the Companhias das Culturas was quite a shock – the tranquility here was overwhelming in a positive way.
I knew that my time here would be more than relaxing!
“Have you noticed? We don’t have music in the common areas here” Eglantina Monteiro, the owner, said to me with a bit of pride. The land on which Companhia das Culturas is located has been in the family for seven generations. Being a farm originally, the majority of all food processed in the hotel’s own restaurant comes from its own production!
And honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve been served such a lovely breakfast in hotels for a long time. By the way, sustainability also plays a big role at the Companhias das Culturas. The breakfast isn’t served as a buffet to reduce food waste – such a great idea!
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At the Companhias das Culturas, you learn to focus on the essentials. Which is so relaxing! Getting up in the morning by the crowing of the rooster and watching the early morning mist over the fields slowly revealing the view over the vast property was my favorite thing to do! It felt so good to just seize the moment without any distraction.
The lack of background music, by the way, was the very first thing that struck me as a flight attendant who has become very sensitive to noise over the years :)
Tip: Start the day with a yoga class in the Corkbox, a space completely lined with Algarvian cork, and then head over to the hotel’s own hammam to relax.
2. Epic Sana in Albufeira
I’ve been driving up and down the street three times without realizing that the huge driveway with a gatekeeper and hedges trimmed to perfection belonged exactly to the hotel where I was going to spend the night! The Epic Sana is a five-star hotel, and to be honest, I love luxury; but sometimes it can be truly intimidating!
The Epic Sana’s lobby is large, inviting and very shiny and one wall is covered with lots of awards and prizes the resort has won over the years. It doesn’t take two minutes and I’m greeted, checked in, have my room key pressed into my hand along with a flower and my luggage is already on the way to my room. The rental car I’ve just left outside the entrance has been parked away – and I’ve landed in another world in the blink of an eye.
The entire complex is huge, I think I’ve counted four or five pools and the view from my balcony looks like a postcard: palm trees, sea on the horizon and lots of green. The property also offers a variety of bars and restaurants. I’m a bit skeptical. Wouldn’t I get lost in this huge resort?
Sales Manager Daniel shows me the hotel. We explore the whole area with its numerous buildings and relaxing areas. I’m impressed!
A cat runs by. “This is our hotel cat, by the way,” Daniel says. “He just settled here, and now he’s just part of the hotel. When we had to close due to the pandemic, we took turns among the staff to bring him food – someone always came over to take care of him.” So cute.
My recommendation if you’re hungry: The brand-new Japanese restaurant at the Epic Sana will spoil you with the finest sushi! I even had one decorated with gold! Despite all the luxury, the atmosphere is absolutely perfect to relax and unwind from a day full of new impressions.
Tip: Room rates may be higher at Epic Sana, but a few days here are so worth it! It’s the perfect place if you really need a break from the daily grind or need just a few relaxing days while on a road trip in Portugal. Consider a stop here and I’ll guarantee you, you’ll feel brand new afterwards!
3. Praia da Falésia in Albufeira
Right behind the Epic Sana, you’ll find one of the most impressive beaches of the Algarve. Praia de Falésia in Albufeira is also open to the public. From the rocks you’ll have a fantastic view over the red cliffs along the beach. Take one of the long wooden stairs and you’ll arrive down at the water.
Tip: Don’t miss to enjoy the sunset from one of the rocks! The view is magical!
4. Portimão & Hotel Bela Vista
Portimão is not exactly known for its impressive architecture. On the contrary, tourism has also brought less attractive buildings to the popular Praia da Rocha. The Hotel Bela Vista, however, held its own in its exposed location right on the beach.
Today, the main house, with its richly detailed interior, feels like something out of a 1930s spy thriller; while the palm-fringed pool and pastel-colored rooms feel like a retro version of Miami.
Tip: After a day at the beach at Praia da Rocha, sip cocktails in the bar & fall in love with the interior design.
Treat yourself with a stay at the one of the most luxurious hotels at the Algarve:
However, if you are on a budget, but don’t want to miss out on a bit of luxury, I can recommend the Longevity Health Club in Alvor. It’s not located directly by the beach, but the Longevity Health Club is brand new and aiming at wellness lovers. Also, the view over Portimão beach from the infinity rooftop pool is quite spectacular!
5. Monchique & Caldas de Monchique
Monchique is located in the mountains of the Algarve. This tranquil spa village is known for its pleasantly cool climate (perfect if the hot coastal temperatures, especially in summer, are too much for you) and its thermal springs, the Caldas de Monchique.
At Villa Termal Caldas de Monchique Spa Resort, you’ll stay in one of four individually decorated hotels like in a small mountain village, and you can also take advantage of the on-site spa. There you can enjoy the mineral-rich thermal water, which is especially helpful for joint pains and respiratory illnesses, as well as wellness treatments such as hydro massages.
Tip: Monchique is not only good for relaxing, but serves also as a starting point for hikes in the mountain range of the same name, the Serra de Monchique.
6. Ria Formosa / Cacela Velha
“Isn’t this relaxing”, Diana asks me and point at the vast beach around us. We are in Cacela Velha, a historic town on the coast and at the same time access to the Ria Formosa, a nature reserve that stretches from here for 70 kilometers along the coast to beyond Faro. The Ria Formosa is an extensive group of lagoons and famous for its richness of species. Since the water level in the lagoon depends on the tides, in places like Cacela Velha you can walk through the mudflats to the offshore island at low tide and plunge into the waves on the beach. But beware: in summer there are small fishing boats that shuttle between the beach and the mainland at high tide – in low season you have to either know when the tide is coming or swim all the way through the lagoon!
Do not underestimate the tides! If you’re unsure, a local guide like Diana will help you explore the Ria Formosa. On the wide beach of Cacela Velha, it’s so easy to forget the world around you! And before you know it, the tide is coming!
What to do:Counting the different bird species, looking for flamingos, chameleons and marine life such as the world’s largest seahorse population and letting Diana convince you that the Algarve is the most relaxing place ever!
7. Enjoy the culinary at the Algarve
I believe, nobody has ever left the Algarve hungry! Especially sea food lovers are considering it their foodie heaven!
Even me, who likes fish but otherwise I don’t care much for seafood, couldn’t say no to typical dishes like the cataplana. A cataplana is a copper pot with a tight-fitting lid in which fish and seafood such as gambas or mussels are stewed, and is also used synonymously to refer to such a stew.
While Portuguese cuisine is traditionally rather hearty, there are now many locations in the Algarve that take advantage of the region’s rich offerings and give the local cuisine a modern twist.
Fresh salad bowls at the Pure Longevity Café at the Longevity Cegonha Country Club*
Juicy Couscous with fresh salmon at the À Terra at the Praia Verde Boutique Hotel*
Cataplana with fish und sea food at the Companhia das Culturas
Disclaimer: I was invited on this trip by the Algarve Tourist Board.
More inspirations for Portugal: